hold back


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hold back

1. To physically restrain someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." I held him back so that he didn't run after her.
2. To not do something to the fullest extent that one can. Don't hold back on the court—I don't want you to let me win.
3. To obstruct someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." Your fears are really holding you back in life. The levee is holding back the floodwaters, for now.
4. To keep something in one's possession. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." I held back some of the money, so we still have some cash left.
5. To require a student to repeat a grade of school. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." Am I really being held back? I don't want to repeat junior year—can't I go to summer school or something?
See also: back, hold

hold (someone, something, or an animal) back (from someone or something)

to restrain someone, something, or an animal from getting at or getting to someone or something. The parents held the children back from the cake and ice cream until the hostess said she was ready. Please hold back your dog.
See also: back, hold

hold back (on something)

to withhold something; to give or take only a limited amount. Hold back on the gravy. I'm on a diet. That's enough. Hold back. Save some for the others.
See also: back, hold

hold back

Also, keep back.
1. Retain in one's possession or control, as in He held back vital information, or I managed to keep back my tears. [First half of 1500s]
2. Restrain one-self, as in She held back from joining the others, or I wanted to denounce him right there, but I kept back for fear of making a scene. The first usage dates from the second half of the 1500s, the variant from the early 1800s.
3. Impede the progress of, as in The barriers held back traffic during the funeral procession, or Her daughter was kept back and had to repeat first grade.
See also: back, hold

hold back

v.
1. To restrain someone or something: The principal held back the bully. We held the dog back when the guests arrived.
2. To retain something in one's possession or control: The witness held back valuable information. I held my tears back when I heard the bad news.
3. To impede the progress of someone or something: Your interference is holding me back from completing the job. The manager's incompetence held back the staff from meeting their sales quota.
See also: back, hold
References in periodicals archive ?
Because of this overdetermined drive to win, the Hold Back can become inflexible and insensitive in his race to succeed.
Pardew said: "It is dangerous if I hold back some of the money until the next transfer window because you have wasted half the season.
A distraught Hunter Mahan was unable to hold back the tears while reflecting on his 3&1 loss to Graeme McDowell in the final singles match, which decided the destiny of the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1991.
And Shearer would not know how to hold back, anyway.
Summary: This month's surprise decision to hold back from more help for the economy was unanimously backed by rate-setters.
So, for the next two weeks, anyway, hold back on the ``shark'' jokes.
He was wearing a garish turquoise-colored suit and didn't hold back in his attack on Vargas.
Speaking of pink-flowering spring plants, it is impossible to hold back enthusiasm for the ever popular India hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica).
Part of the problem with retaining eighth-graders stemmed from teachers' reluctance to hold back failing students, said teachers union President Day Higuchi.
Los Angeles Unified has sharply scaled back once-ambitious plans to abolish social promotion, abandoning efforts to hold back students in three new grades this year.
Los Angeles Unified officials said Thursday they plan to hold back about 13,500 students this fall when the district ends social promotion, far fewer than the hundreds of thousands once feared.
The district originally hoped to hold back students in grades three, four and five as well this school year.
Districts will be required to hold back poor performing students in grades 2, 3, 4 as well as the grades between elementary and middle school, and middle and high school.
Just as after her Goodwill triumph, Joyner-Kersee couldn't hold back tears.
How can you hold back tears when grown men are crying like babies on the TV screen, standing in front of war memorials to dead comrades - remembering when they were young, so full of life and courage?